Grijalva on Disavowal of Unpopular Public Lands Giveaway Bill by Its Sponsor: “Activism is the Strongest Power in Washington”

Washington, D.C. – Following the sudden abandonment of a House Republican bill to give away millions of acres of federally protected land in response to massive public protests, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva called on public lands supporters to continue their activism and urged Republican leaders to rethink their unpopular environmental policies.

“Political activism is the only way to protect public lands from President Trump and his cheerleaders in Congress, and it works,” Grijalva said after House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) publicly repudiated his own H.R. 621, which would have required the sale of 3.3 million acres of federal land to the highest bidder. “When the chairman of a powerful committee bows to public pressure a week after introducing a bill, we know it can and will happen again if we make our voices heard. Unless they want to fight a massive tide of public resistance, Republicans should stop their all-out attack on public lands as soon as possible.”

In concert with demonstrations at state capitols and elsewhere around the country, the public outcry was more than enough to force Chaffetz to reject his own bill. Although there is no mechanism by which H.R. 621 can be withdrawn, Chaffetz said on social media in the early hours of Feb. 2 that the bill “dies tomorrow.”

A similar fight is brewing regarding national monuments designated by President Obama.

On the same day he introduced the now-disavowed legislation, Chairman Chaffetz also introduced H.R. 622, legislation to terminate the Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations Unit and the Bureau of Land Management Office of Law Enforcement. The bill would prohibit federal personnel from conducting law enforcement on federal land. The legislation was introduced in the previous Congress as well, after federal law enforcement confrontations with Cliven Bundy and members of his family on federal land in Nevada and Oregon. 

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